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Secretive Russian blogger StalinGulag reveals identity

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Moscow, Russia   /   Fri, May 3, 2019   /   05:05 pm
Secretive Russian blogger StalinGulag reveals identity Russian Communist party supporters lay flowers on the tomb of Soviet leader Josef Stalin to mark the Stalin's 139th birthday on Red Square, in Moscow, on December 21, 2018. (AFP/Kirill Kudryavtsev)

A blogger behind massively popular social media accounts that skewer the Kremlin and life in modern Russia has revealed his identity.

Known for his caustic observations and dry wit, StalinGulag has won nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter and Telegram.

Speculation has circulated for years about his identity, until this week he revealed himself as Alexander Gorbunov, born in 1992 in the North Caucasus city of Makhachkala.

"I am StalinGulag and I am no longer anonymous," Gorbunov posted on Twitter on Thursday, linking to an interview he gave to the BBC Russian service. 

The interview showed Gorbunov in a wheelchair and he said that he had used it for most of his life after being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.

Gorbunov said his work had evolved from a need to point out the absurdities of life in his country.

"The blog wasn't some thought-out project. It all happened purely by accident," he said.

"There are situations when it is simply impossible to stay silent, when it is impossible not to say that crazy things are happening."

In one recent Twitter post he pointed to the fact that Russian television channels were giving blanket coverage to a presidential election debate in neighbouring Ukraine.

"This is how much our political system has degraded -- it is more interesting to watch elections in a foreign country than to even hope that someday we will have something similar."

Gorbunov, who said he lived in Moscow with his wife and was a successful financial trader, said he had decided to come forward after police in Makhachkala raided his parents' home.

In recent years Russian authorities have tried to block online sites where critical content has been posted, including Telegram, an encrypted messenger app.